DA seeks to limit Police Minister’s powers to appoint IPID head – Andrew Whitfield

MP says directorate is in a state of complete chaos due to a lack of leadership and political interference

DA seeks to limit Police Minister’s powers to appoint  IPID head

15 March 2020

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will table a Private Members Bill (PMB) to amend the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) Act, in order to limit the powers of the Police Minister to appoint the executive director of the police watchdog.

IPID is in a state of complete chaos due to a lack of leadership and political interference.

In the past two weeks IPID’s acting Executive Director, Victor Senna, has been replaced, head of investigations, Mathew Sesoko, has been suspended and IPID investigator, Mandlakayise Mahlangu, was murdered while investigating former police chief Khomotso Phahlane.

In 2019 Parliament amended the IPID Act to limit the powers of the Minister to remove an Executive Director of IPID. The DA believes that this amendment did not go far enough and that there is an urgent need to further limit the Minister’s powers to appoint an Executive Director of IPID.

Currently, the IPID Act gives the Police Minister the power to “nominate a suitably qualified person” which Parliament’s police committee must either “confirm or reject”.

The DA is of the view that this process is problematic because it gives too much power to the Minister and reduces the role of the committee to a mere tick-box exercise while opening the directorate up to undue political influence.

The DA proposes amendments to Section 6 of the IPID Act in order to allow for an independent panel to shortlist candidates. The committee will then interview the candidates and recommend a preferred candidate to the Minister. The process will also allow for public comments on the shortlisted candidates.

We also trust that these amendments will speed up the process of appointing a permanent IPID head. The institution has had an acting head for the past year and despite continued assurances - Minister Bheki Cele continues to drag his feet.

The DA’s proposed amendments to the IPID Act will allow for greater Parliamentary oversight in the appointment of an IPID head; reduce the chance of a political appointment and ensure public participation in the appointment process.

These amendments are critical to ensure that stability is restored at IPID and in order to ensure that IPID achieves its mandate, which is to provide significant investigative breakthroughs in detecting systematic corruption and procurement irregularities in the South African Police Service (SAPS).

An honest and professional police service cannot be achieved without a capable oversight body.

Issued by Andrew Whitfield, DA Shadow Minister of Police, 15 March 2020